“Can I rely on this brand to be friendly or compliant to the values by which I choose to live?” asks a Muslim consumer. By undertaking Shariah-friendliness and Shariah compliance, brands can help Muslim consumers achieve the lifestyles they aspire to, by reassuring them that their consumption is in line with their aspirations, and by helping them navigate the confusions of products and brands that are increasing in number and complexity.
At my Halal Brand Studio, we like to think of Islamic Branding as branding that is compassionate to Shariah values in order to appeal to the general Muslim consumer. This can range from basic Shariah friendliness to full ‘Shariah compliance’ in all aspects of the brand’s identity, behavior and communications.
In order to completely understand ‘Shariah compliance’ we must first fully understand what Shariah means.
In Arabic, Shariah can be translated as ‘the way’ or ‘the path’. In practice it is taken to mean ‘the path to God’ that all Muslims should follow. It defines a holistic set of practices that guides every aspect of one’s life, from politics and business to family and social issues.
Upon hearing the word Shariah, many in the West may by default think of the Islamic law. Unfortunately most often this is coloured by negative media coverage such as the denial of women’s rights, free speech or some similar issue. While the topic of Shariah jurisprudence is quite vast, it could be worth remembering that it is only one part of the entirety of principles that comprise Shariah as a framework of moral guidance.
For clarification, Shariah and Shariah law (also called fiqh) are not one and the same.
Understanding Shariah values is core to the enterprise of understanding the role of faith in consumption for Muslim consumers. There is no single definitive list of all the values that Muslims consider central to following Shariah. But there is certainly a great deal of agreement on what those core values are, with most Muslims around the world spontaneously suggesting them or agreeing with them when mentioned.
Our research uncovered an exhaustive list of core Shariah values which include honesty, sincerity, respect, consideration, kindness, peacefulness, purity, patience, discipline, authenticity, transparency, trustworthiness, humility, moderation, understanding, modesty, improvement, community, equality and dignity.
A good Muslim lives with these values at the core of their being, conducting every aspect of their life in a way that aligns with them. A good company, we can argue, should do the same to align itself.
Running one’s business and brand along these lines is a recipe for long-term success with any group of consumers. Shariah-friendly initiatives (full or partial) can be hugely appealing to Muslim consumers today even if they aren’t marketed to them directly.